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Church needs council money

Posted on October 31 2016 at 11:22:07

I was very disappointed and sad to read in the October Village that Barnt Green Parish Council had turned down the request from St Michael’s Church for an annual sum of £250 for maintenance of its churchyard.

The parish council’s reasoning was, I understand, that St Michael’s Church is outside the official boundary of Barnt Green and that it would be unfair to give money to one church but not to others. I regret to say that this reasoning is not sound.

The fact that St Michael’s Church is (just) outside the village’s administrative boundary does not reflect the very real significance it has within Barnt Green’s community.

Both the church and the village are within the same church parish (the Parish of St Andrew’s and St Michael’s), with the same vicar and curate.

The church school takes pupils from both within and outside Barnt Green; activities such as lighting the village’s Christmas lights are attended by the congregation of both churches (along with the parish council).

Both churches’ facilities are used for community functions attended by Barnt Green villagers; and residents of Barnt Green may be buried in St Michael’s Churchyard, this being the closest option for parishioners given that St Andrew’s Church does not have a churchyard.

Although the primary use of the churchyard is for burial and quiet contemplation, it is of considerable value for the promotion of wildlife, conservation and biodiversity.

During summer months volunteers from the church, usually residents of Barnt Green, sit outside the church on a Sunday to show walkers the historic Grade II listed building.

Put simply, St Michael’s Church may be technically outside the village’s boundary, but it is in reality a central part of the village’s community. The parish council’s reasoning unfortunately places form over substance.

As to the suggestion that it would be unfair to give to one church and not others, I am not aware of any other church having requested assistance from the parish council.

In any event, I would hope that if the Baptist Church or Meeting House needed major help, then this would be viewed favourably by councillors.

I understand that the parish council’s decision was passed by the narrowest of margins, namely by the chairman’s casting vote.

I hope that, in these circumstances, they will reconsider the matter and look at the value to the whole of the Barnt Green community and future generations which St Michael’s Church plays. 

Rachel Banner, Barnt Green


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